cover image Will the Last Person to Leave the Planet Please Shut Off the Sun?

Will the Last Person to Leave the Planet Please Shut Off the Sun?

Mike Resnick, Michael D. Resnick, Mike Resnik. Tor Books, $19.95 (353pp) ISBN 978-0-312-85276-4

This first collection of short fiction from Resnick ( Second Contact ) features several of his most popular stories and an array of less distinguished work. Standouts include ``Kirinyaga'' and ``For I Have Touched the Sky,'' two installments from Resnick's well-regarded Kirinyaga series, set on an orbital space habitat modeled on a pre-colonial African culture. These--along with ``Over There'' and ``The Light That Blinds, the Claws That Catch,'' two ``alternate Teddy Roosevelt'' stories--are the most substantial pieces in the book. Some of the others are interesting but weaker: ``Watching Marcia,'' a tale of psychological suspense; ``Balance,'' a brief, effective homage to Isaac Asimov; and two canine tales, ``The Last Dog'' and ``Blue.'' The remaining 20 stories are dominated by a smirky sort of humor that steals whatever power they might have had. Ranging from decent pieces that might otherwise have worked (``Beachcomber,'' ``Frankie the Spook'') to bits of almost embarrassing amateurism (``His Award-Winning Science Fiction Story,'' ``Posttime in Pink''), the lesser efforts almost swamp the better ones--and Resnick's smug, self-congratulatory introductions don't help. Still, some worthwhile stories--if only there had been more of them. (Aug.)